I know it will feel awesome to have an animal hopping all over the house. A house rabbit is a pet rabbit kept for companionship that lives inside its owner’s home. Although the rabbit’s earliest link with the humans was based on the ‘fur-and-food relationship’, people kept rabbits from as early as the 18th century. British poet William Cowper kept hares in his home to help combat severe depression and he constantly wrote eloquently of his love and appreciation for such companion animals.
We have often heard people calling someone “a dog person” or a “cat person”, but who exactly is a “rabbit person” ? According to Jennifer Saver, a rabbit owner is someone who enjoys observing as much as handling and one who does not easily get upset at its natural tendencies like chewing and digging.
Rabbits are relatively quiet animals. They do have an unique communicating method, from binkying to flopping to thumping. They are sociable, highly intelligent. They have distinctive striking personalities. They can be playful and silly as kittens or puppies, intelligent and fascinating as cats and loyal and openly lovable as dogs. Many owners claim that domestic rabbits are, in their way, every bit smart as a dog or a cat. They are very adaptive and elegant. An entire white ball of white fur will always be cuddly and pleasant to watch.
Male rabbits are called Bucks; females are called Does. A young hare is termed a Leveret. Many house rabbits have successfully cohabited with the family dog or cat. Leaving them alone with rabbits can be a little dangerous as animals with aggressive predatory instincts or overenthusiastic play can result in the dog or cat attacking the bunny spontaneously. However with indoor cats and well mannered dogs, they get along pretty well. Proper safety will ensure its well being. Bunnies can change your life. They are wonderful and fun to live with.
Rabbits can live uptill 12 years. They quickly get bored if not given enough space to explore and move about. So, one must follow these ways of making them a happy pet.
1. Giving them space- if a bunny is kept in a puppy pen, a multi-level condo or a cage, you must let the bunny out on a regular basis as they love sniffling around and examining their surroundings.
2. Coming down to their level- Wait for them to approach you so that they first build the trust on you. Once comfortable, they enjoy being petted and have your attention.
3. Being creative with cardboard- cutting rabbit sized doors and windows in an old cardboard box, you’ve built into a cardboard castle for your rabbit to rule. They’ll love widening and shaping the doors to their liking. Rabbits also like tunnels. So be sure to save and reshape any old narrow, tall box or tube for their enjoyment.
4. Toys – when you are away from home, selection of correctly shaped toys is a necessity for your rabbit. They love toys that they can hold in their mouths and toss. Cardboard tubes from toilet paper or paper towel rolls are their favourite. Other toys include untreated wood products, hard plastic baby toys, plastic balls with bells inside, pine cones, phone books. But the caution is some kinds of wood are poisonous for them like redwood, peach and cherry.
Whether it’s bowling or anything else, rabbits love to play. Their unique personality unfolds. Games that play into their natural tendencies, especially bunny bowling reveals their mischievous side as they love to knock things over. Playing with rabbits doesn’t only establish a bond with your pet, but provides it with much needed mental stimulation to thrive.
Access to unlimited amounts of hay makes up about 80% of a rabbits diet. Adult house rabbits should be given grass hay while young and growing rabbits can receive Alfalfa hay. Pellets made from hay may supplement its diet. In addition they can be given leafy vegetables- green and fresh daily for adequate vitamins and minerals. The owner should try to stay away from ‘the pet store food’ as it can make them sick. It’s a complete no-no to over feed them. But they need to be feed everyday because rabbits , usually the adult, big ones burn off their carbs and nutrients very fast. They should never be left to starve. Also one should make sure that they have fresh water to drink. Rabbits drink a lot of water.
If you think of bring a furry rabbit friend home, remember they can be a costly purchase and a pinch to your pocket. Rabbit ownership requires the same commitment as owning a puppy and should be taken care of seriously. A rabbit has the best chance of being a well-loved pet only if the owner is well-prepared. Books and Internet resources help close the knowledge gap, but there is no peace like interacting with the rabbits ‘up close and personal’ to give you an unique kind of feeling for this species. Foster homes as well as progressive shelters provide a greater opportunity to know the rabbits well in an environment conductive to relaxed interactions, where their personality opens up readily.
Kids and rabbits together can be a delight but the dilemmas cannot be unnoticed. They can be unsuitable for toddlers. Experts say that young children and rabbits do not mix well and this fact cannot be emphasized well. Children are loving beings but their love means holding, cuddling and picking up which can make the rabbit insecure and frightened. Many bunnies are dropped accidentally by the children, resulting in broken legs and back. A rabbit might also bite or scratch your child to protect itself, which can be mistaken as ‘bad behaviour’ by us and hence they can be euthanized. However responsible and properly trained children can be left with rabbits who can aid to their needs to form long lasting bonds besides respecting animals that carry into adulthood.
There are more than four dozen recognized breeds of rabbits with various colour, sizes, shapes, fur type, body type to choose from. It is always best to select pet rabbit keeping aside all the pre-occupations regarding colour, breed and size.
Adopting rabbits from a shelter rather than purchasing from a pet store can be a win- win situation. Shelters and Rescue Organisations know the rabbit behaviour and can match an owner with a rabbit; “a good-fit”. Rabbits do not need annual vaccinations but regular checkups might detect small health problem which can be cured instantly. They should also be sprayed and neutered once they reach sexual maturity by a veterinarian experienced in rabbit surgery.
A new rabbit is usually timid in new surroundings but given time, they will make themselves at home. A bunny’s typical pattern of exploration starts from an area of perceived safety to venturing out a few feet at a time, increasing his range with each successive trip. Many bunnies even adapt to the hustle, bustle and noise of the cities remarkably. Many owners even remain surprised at their rabbit’s gregariousness.
Rabbits are clean pets if properly litter trained. Selecting a right place according to his wish and keeping a litter-box there is of much help. Rabbit cages must be atleast three to four feet long, giving them place to relax all by themselves yet not secluded from the family. Rabbits need a lot of enrichment activities. Litter training can be frustrating but persistence and tolerance can make it right. A rabbit’s teeth grows continuously all her life and they become prodigous chewers. You should rabbit-proof the area by making electrical wires, house plants etc inaccessible to it.
Keep this in mind: Pick up your bunny by carefully supporting his forequarters with one hand and then the hindquarters with the other. Tuck him up under your arm or hold him snugly against your body so that their eyes are never covered. Do not pick up a rabbit by his ear. Ask your veterinarian to show you how to clip his nails. Regular brushing helps remove excess hair.